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California Lawmakers Chew On Dental Program’s Shortcomings

Photo credit: Ralph Hogaboom / Flickr

A young girl brushes her teeth, Oct. 2, 2009.

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State lawmakers will hold a hearing Tuesday on a recent audit that found serious flaws in California’s dental program for poor children.

State lawmakers will hold a hearing Tuesday on a recent audit that found serious flaws in California’s dental program for poor children.

Legislators will have a lot to chew on.

All of the 5.2 million children enrolled in Medi-Cal are entitled to dental care. But the audit revealed more than half of those kids didn’t see a dentist in 2013.

The audit pointed out Medi-Cal pays less than a third of what private insurance pays, causing many dentists to forgo treating Medi-Cal patients.

Jenny Kattlove, senior director of programs at The Children’s Partnership, a nonprofit advocacy group, said kids face some other issues.

“Sometimes they have to wait months to get care, or there’s not care in their local community, or the local dentist may not see a young child such as a three-year-old," Kattlove said.

She predicts there will be more problems unless the state takes action because Medi-Cal enrollment continues to grow.

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